The 11th Seminar on World Heritage and tourism: Tackling the challenges of the COVID-19 Crisis of the UNESCO Chair “Culture, Tourism, Development” Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University in collaboration with UNESCO World Heritage Centre will occur on the 14th of December 2020. 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt international travel and forces the closure of World Heritage sites around the globe. The second wave of infections in the Northern Hemisphere is preventing tourism recovery and UNWTO is expecting an overall 70% decline in international arrivals for 2020. While the release and distribution of vaccines may be imminent, it will be some time before confidence is restored and visitation to World Heritage sites returns to pre-COVID levels. The loss in visitor revenue has been crippling for many heritage sites, which have been forced to make cuts to human resources, research, maintenance and restoration works as a result. This seminar will bring together World Heritage site managers to discuss how they are coping with the uncertainty and strategies striving to remain open and measures they are undertaking to build back stronger and more resilient as the crisis abates.

The seminar will look at emerging trends to see how these can be adapted for long term sustainability. With people confined to their homes for long periods, there has been a surge in the demand for virtual and digital heritage experiences, an increased desire for nature-based experiences and a renewed interest in rediscovering local heritage. This has created opportunities for heritage sites to reconnect with local communities and attract new audiences virtually from around the world.

The panel sessions will focus on immediate responses and strategies for handling the crisis, as well as long-term impacts on World Heritage and the innovative management responses needed to ensure a more sustainable recovery.

The first panel will focus on how COVID-19 has impacted tourism in World Heritage cities and good practices that have been developed in response. The second panel will focus on how natural and cultural sites are handling the crisis and building resilience for the post-COVID scenario.



Mechtild Rössler,
Director of the World Heritage Center


Maria Gravari-Barbas,
holder  of the UNESCO Chair “Culture, Tourisme, Development”,
Professor at IREST,
Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University

Sébastien Jacquot,
Associate Professor and Director of IREST,
Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University

Panel 1
World heritage cities and cultural landscapes:
Innovative responses to the COVID-19 crisis

Fergus T. Maclaren
(President, ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee)


Lee Minaidis,
OWCH - Rhodes Liaison

Maria Del Pozo,
Director of Aranjuez Cultural Landscape Foundation

Robert Piaskowski,
Plenipotentiary of the Mayor of Kraków for Culture, City of Krakow (tbc)

Gerardo Korres,
in charge of relations Oaxaca-OVPM (tbc)

Panel 2 
Archeological sites and natural parks:
Building resilience for the post-COVID scenario

Peter Debrine,
Senior Project Officer, UNESCO World Heritage Center.


Suleiman Farajat,
Chief Commissioner for the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA)

Kerya Sun,
Spokeperson of the Autorité pour la Protection du Site et l'Aménagement de la Région d'Angkor (APSARA)

Nicolas Lefebvre,
Executive Director of Tourism and Hospitality of the
Agence Française pour le Developpement d'AlUla (AFALULA),
Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)

Freddy Manongi,
Chief Conservator
Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority Conservation (tbc).


The detailed program of the seminar
will be sent to pre-registered participants.
Pre-registrations can be done by mail at the following address:

Former UNESCO Chair Seminars

UNESCO Chair Culture, Tourism Development 
Brochure of the Chair